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The Council of the European Union meeting in form of the Competitiveness Council, covering the fields of internal market, industry and research, released new Council conclusions on the ERA on 21 February. With a strong emphasis on the results of the ERA Progress Report 2013 (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, October 2013), the Council conclusions call for further promotion of the European Research Area (ERA) but at the same time underline the EU member states’ competency in legislating within this field.
The European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC), a policy advisory committee dedicated to research policy, had previously called for more legislation at the European level in order to further facilitate the implementation of the ERA. Yet, the new Council conclusions give a clear rebuff to this idea, as member states do not support ERAC’s view on this matter. In fact, the Council conclusions emphasise the member states’ role in building a more integrated ERA, which can and should accelerate national reforms and define shared strategies.
In view of future developments, the Council conclusions furthermore invite the Commission and the member states to develop an ERA roadmap by mid-2015, determining the main strategic objectives over the next five years as well as a set of tools and best practices for member states to assist them in adjusting their respective national research policies. In light of the new ERA Progress Report for 2014, the Council conclusions asks the Commission to deal with the external dimension of research cooperation in the framework of the ERA in more detail.